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Frank Rich: the GOP's gay hypocrisy

Several of you sent in links to the slam dunk column in the NYT by Frank Rich today, The Gay Old Party Comes Out (Times Select sub req’d). He breaks it all down — the Republicans have both demonized and embraced the gays they work with — at the highest levels of government, and have gotten away with this for too long.

The split between the Republicans’ outward homophobia and inner gayness isn’t just hypocrisy; it’s pathology. Take the bizarre case of Karl Rove. Every one of his Bush campaigns has been marked by a dirty dealing of the gay card, dating back to the lesbian whispers that pursued Ann Richards when Mr. Bush ousted her as Texas governor in 1994. Yet we now learn from “The Architect,” the recent book by the Texas journalists James Moore and Wayne Slater, that Mr. Rove’s own (and beloved) adoptive father, Louis Rove, was openly gay in the years before his death in 2004. This will be a future case study for psychiatric clinicians as well as historians.

So will Kirk Fordham, the former Congressional aide who worked not only for Mark Foley but also for such gay-baiters as Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma (who gratuitously bragged this year that no one in his family’s “recorded history” was gay) and Senator Mel Martinez of Florida (who vilified his 2004 Republican primary opponent, a fellow conservative, as a tool of the “radical homosexual agenda”). Then again, even Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania senator who brought up incest and “man-on-dog” sex while decrying same-sex marriage, has employed a gay director of communications. In the G.O.P. such switch-hitting is as second nature as cutting taxes.

The sad truth, of course, is that these ambitious gays willingly allowed themselves to be used as long as they received a paycheck and access to power in exchange for being professionally closeted. The fact that their world is crashing down on them is just too damn bad. At least one Log Cabinette is waking up from the coma.

“The hypocrisy, the winking and nodding is catching up with the party,” says Mr. Tafel, the former Log Cabin leader. “Republicans must welcome their diversity as the party of Lincoln or purge the party of all gays. The middle ground — we’re a diverse party but we can bash gays too — will no longer work.” He adds that “the ironic point is that the G.O.P. isn’t as homophobic as it pretends to be.” Indeed two likely leading presidential competitors in 2008, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, are consistent supporters of gay civil rights.

It will no longer work only if gay Republicans working for the homophobes finally stop enabling their leash masters from continuing the gay bashing. Staying in their professional closets clearly hasn’t done the GOP any good — working “from within” for change hasn’t resulted in anything except gay Republicans looking like ridiculous doormats as the party plays the gay card when it’s has nothing else to run on.


Blast from the past: here’s Inhofe playing that infamous gay card during the Senate FMA debate:

INHOFE: As you see here, and I think this is maybe the most important prop we’ll have during the entire debate, my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.

Inhofe also famously said that he didn’t hire any gay people for his staff. He had to qualify himself after Mike Rogers pointed out that Inhofe, in fact, did employ a socially out homo, Jonathan Tolman, as a senior staffer.

Rogers last week alerted Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a leading proponent of the amendment, that one of his aides was openly gay outside the office. Inhofe said the aide isn’t on his personal staff and that he does not hire openly gay staffers “due to the possibility of a conflict of agenda.”

Jesus, the hair splitting is truly pathological. Tolman, btw, is no wallflower — he was Coverboy Confidential in the May 2001 issue of DC gay publication Metro Weekly.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding